HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — A young child has tested 'presumptive' positive for monkeypox in Harris County, according to Judge Lina Hidalgo.
The presumptive result was confirmed on Monday, but will need to get complete confirmation from the CDC before it becomes a confirmed case.
"So far we have not yet had a presumptive positive not be a confirmed monkeypox case," Hidalgo said. "At some point that will happen, but that part hasn't happened.
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Hidalgo said they will assume it's a confirmed case and should receive confirmation within a week. Health departments have started conducting contact tracing with the case.
The child is expected to have a full recovery and doing very well, according to Hidalgo. The judge said the child is under the age of 2 and has been in contact with the family, who are fully cooperating.
Hidalgo says contact tracing is underway to find out where the child got the virus. So far, no one in the inner family seems to be infected.
“That is somewhat surprising,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and Co-Director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development. “You would usually expect the transmission to occur through fairly intimate contact. You know, cuddling, hugging, skin to skin.”
Monkeypox can spread face to face through droplets and on fabrics like blankets and towels, although Dr. Hotez says that form of transmission is rare, as are cases in children in the US.
“As the cases go up, we should expect to see more cases happening outside the highest at-risk population,” Dr. Hotez said.
Vaccines are offered to those considered at high risk of contracting monkeypox. In Harris County vaccine distribution has expanded to include those with HIV and chlamydia. Children are also able to receive a vaccine if they’ve been exposed.
Health officials say parents should be paying attention to any rashes and in touch with their pediatricians if there’s any concern.
As far as monkeypox being widespread among kids, Hotez believes it’s unlikely at this point because the spread is mostly intimate in nature.
“Generally speaking, we should not expect to see a lot of monkeypox cases, I don’t think, in schools or in preschools or in daycare.”
The child has not been in any daycare or school settings, and is completely asymptomatic outside of a mild rash, Hidalgo said.
Anyone in contact with the child has been offered the monkeypox vaccine.
“I don’t want parents to think this virus is running rampant in our schools right now because that’s not the case right now. Now, we might get there if we’re not able to contain this through vaccines," Hidalgo said.
The case is one of only a handful of cases in children nationwide and the first in the state of Texas.
"Anyone can get this virus, so this isn't entirely unexpected," Hidalgo said. "This is a rare case...as best we know, the seventh case in the country in a child."